I left for Seattle on Saturday afternoon. I was staying the night with my mom who happens to rent a studio apartment in West Seattle which is just 20 minutes from Gas Works Park where the race would take place. When I got to town it was dinner time so we headed for dinner at The Spaghetti Factory on the waterfront. I ate my favorite pasta dish: spaghetti with browned butter and myzithra cheese, along with lots of bread and butter. Yum!! We took a short walk after dinner and by the time we got back to her apartment it was after 8:30. We visited for awhile but headed to bed early, around 10:30. My alarm was set for 5:30.
I fell asleep fairly quickly, but long about 2:30 a.m. I was wide awake. I could not fall back to sleep. It was a strange place, a strange bed, and my mom's breathing was strange (not strange for her, but strange for me since I usually sleep with my husband!) No matter what I tried, I could not sleep! Finally abot 4:45 I gave up, resigned to the fact that I would be running a half marathon on very little sleep!
I can't say that I was nervous when I got up, but I did feel a bit of trepidation. Would I be able to do it, would I finish in under three hours, how many times would I have to pee, and so on and so forth! Luckily I had my race outfit, my pre-race breakfast, and all the details of the day worked out. I felt at ease with all that would take place knowing that I had done everything I could to get prepared, even if that didn't include long runs!
We were supposed to check-in for the race at 6:30 and we arrived at the park at 6:25! Woohoo! There was no line for packet pickup although I was dismayed to hear they were out of size large shirts. I didn't order a large, but I was thinking of all those women that did and how frustrating that would be! I already knew the shirts were super cute and purple--it was meant to be, I tell ya!
Long about 7:30, I decided to hit the restroom again. I'm sure it was nerves and my bladder, but I had to go again. This time the line was so long! And they did not have enough restrooms, not by a lot shot. They kept announcing to let the half marathon runners go first because the 5K started a half hour later, but it didn't seem to make a difference. At 7:40 when the Jane Fonda style warm-up started I was still in the bathroom line. At 7:50, I was still in the bathroom line. My mom and I started up a conversation with the girl behind us (here name was Brandy) who was very experienced in running these events and by 7:59 we were still in line. The race started promptly at 8:00 and we were still in line! I was asking her if she thought we should head out and hit the first porta-potty, or if we should continue to wait, it was chip timing after all. After much debate we headed out about 2 minutes after the start. We didn't use the restroom! So I was starting my first half marathon having to pee. Good times.
But we were off and running. I was running my first half marathon! Woohoo! And an amazing thing was happening. Brandy and I were chatting! Running and chatting! I never thought I could run and talk before, but here I was. And it was glorious! I felt awesome and the time was passing so quickly. The first three miles was an out and back which was a little annoying when the lead runners were coming back and the path was still thick with runners. You couldn't pass people or you'd get run over so you just had to shuffle along. But we hit 3 miles around 35 minutes which wasn't too bad.
It was right after the three mile mark that we finally stopped to pee. Oh, thank goodness! I had been so stressed because I hate running while having to pee!
At 4 miles, I ate two Gu Chomps (blueberry-pomegranite) and had some water. Brandy and I were still chatting and I was still feeling great! My right heel started hurting a little bit around mile 6 which worried me a bit. I hoped it would not continue to get worse and worse. Luckily it didn't.
I started this race with a solid plan. I broke it into three parts. Miles 1 through 8 were basically Bloomsday so I could run those no problem! Then I would run and/or walk as needed to mile 10. And then it was just a 5K to the end--I do 5Ks all the time. This plan and Brandy helped the first 8 miles fly by! I felt great! At one point we kind of got separated and I just turned up my iPod and kept going. I was really amazed at how good I felt! I had a couple Gu Chomps and water every two miles and the pace was easy and steady. When we got to a place where there was a fairly steep, but short hill, I actually loved it. I didn't realize that my legs did feel a little sore but the change to running up hill felt great and was a nice break
I did walk a little bit between mile 9 and 10. Brandy and I had gotten separated so I was a bit sad, and I had to pee again. Eww! So after the 10 mile mark I stopped into the first porto-potty available. Let me tell you how not fun it is to try and go to the bathroom in one of those things when your clothes are soaked with sweat. Everything was sticking to me and it was difficult to maneauver all my clothes and race belt while staying upright. Oh yeah, and that one was on a hill, did I mention that? I almost fell over while I was trying to pull my pants up! That would have been fun! I kept envisioning the whole thing going over with me.
It was about 10.5 miles when I started to feel a little fatigued. I kept telling myself it was just a 5K to finish, and I could run it. But I actually ended up walking a bit between mile 10 and the finish. I was okay with it, though, I wanted to keep going. The last 3 miles was another out and back so eventually I saw Brandy coming back and she cheered for me and gave me a mental boost! I will admit that at one point I was thinking about how I wouldn't be doing any more half marathons after that one! But I kept going. My biggest problem was the thirst. My water bottles were empty and I had to get to mile 12 or so before there was more water. I felt like I could drink a gallon. When I reached that last water station I couldn't force myself to eat any more Chomps and I sucked down a cup of water while they refilled my water bottle. That was only 6oz, though, and soon it was gone, but I still had a half mile to go. I just wanted water! It had started to sprinkle just a bit, but that wasn't the water I needed!
At 13 miles Icould hear the announcer at the finish line and shortly I could see the end. I picked up the pace and finished strong.
I even felt great the next day and the next. No soreness! I am amazed. I was sore after Bloomsday for a couple days so I was fully expecting to be sore after this race, but I really wasn't. This has only added to the greatness of this whole experience. It makes me realize that I have been training well and running hard. I may not have run the long runs, but I ran a lot. And all of that hard work paid off! My chip time on this race was 2:44:01. I have posted my splits below and you'll notice the extra time on mile 4 and mile 10--these were the bathroom stops. At first I was dismayed to see that I basically spent 8 minutes going to the bathroom. I was thinking without those stops I could have finished in 2:36, just 6 minutes off my goal...or maybe not. I then started realizing that those bathroom breaks were also running breaks and maybe making those stops actually helped me. Maybe without a rest I would not have been able to finish as strong as I did. So I'm not lamenting the 8 minutes at all. In the end, time doesn't really matter. The fact is I completed a half marathon, and I felt great doing it. I set a goal and achieved it. That is a fabulous feeling! I could not be more proud of myself.
Now, am I still planning to chase down the 2:30 half marathon? Well, we shall see. More on this in the coming weeks. I also plan to share my thoughts about this race series as well as recommend some fabulous running gear.
Thank you for following my journey and supporting me!